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1 Peter 1:4

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

To an inheritance - Through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus we now cherish the hope of that future inheritance in heaven. On the word inheritance, see the Acts 20:32 note; Ephesians 1:11, Ephesians 1:14, Ephesians 1:18 notes; Colossians 1:12 note. Christians are regarded as the adopted children of God, and heaven is spoken of as their inheritance - as what their Father will bestow on them as the proof of his love.

Incorruptible - It will not fade away and vanish, as that which we inherit in this world does. See the word explained in the notes at 1 Corinthians 9:25. The meaning here is, that the inheritance will be imperishable, or will endure forever. Here, to whatever we may be heirs, we must soon part with the inheritance; there it will be eternal.

And undefiled - See the Hebrews 7:26; Hebrews 13:4 notes; James 1:27 note. The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. As applied to an inheritance, it means that it will be pure. It will not have been obtained by dishonesty, nor will it be held by fraud; it will not be such as will corrupt the soul, or tempt to extravagance, sensuality, and lust, as a rich inheritance often does here; it will be such that its eternal enjoyment will never tend in any manner to defile the heart. “How many estates,” says Benson, “have been got by fraudulent and unjust methods; by poisoning, or in some other way murdering the right heir; by cheating of helpless orphans; by ruining the fatherless and widows; by oppressing their neighbors, or grinding the faces of the poor, and taking their garments or vineyards from them! But this future inheritance of the saints is stained by none of these vices; it is neither got nor detained by any of these methods; nor shall persons polluted with vice have any share in it.” Here no one can be heir to an inheritance of gold or houses without danger of soon sinking into indolence, effeminacy, or vice; there the inheritance may be enjoyed forever, and the soul continually advance in knowledge, holiness, and the active service of God.

And that fadeth not away - Greek ἀμάραντον amarantonThis word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though the word ἀμαράντινος amarantinosoccurs in 1 Peter 5:4, applied to a crown or garland. The word is properly applied to that which does not fade or wither, in contradistinction from a flower that fades. It may then denote anything that is enduring, and is applied to the future inheritance of the saints to describe its perpetuity in all its brilliance and splendor, in contrast with the fading nature of all that is earthly. The idea here, therefore, is not precisely the same as is expressed by the word “incorruptible.” Both words indeed denote perpetuity, but that refers to perpetuity in contrast with decay; this denotes perpetuity in the sense that everything there will be kept in its original brightness and beauty. The crown of glory, though worn for millions of ages, will not be dimmed; the golden streets will lose none of their luster; the flowers that bloom on the banks of the river of life will always be as rich in color, and as fragant, as when we first beheld them.

Reserved in heaven for you - Margin, “us.” The difference in the text and the margin arises from the various readings in mss. The common reading is “for you.” The sense is not materially affected. The idea is, that it is an inheritance appointed for us, and kept by one who can make it sure to us, and who will certainly bestow it upon us. Compare the Matthew 25:34 note; John 14:2 note; Colossians 1:5 note.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
This epistle is addressed to believers in general, who are strangers in every city or country where they live, and are scattered through the nations. These are to ascribe their salvation to the electing love of the Father, the redemption of the Son, and the sanctification of the Holy Ghost; and so to give glory to one God in three Persons, into whose name they had been baptized. Hope, in the world's phrase, refers only to an uncertain good, for all worldly hopes are tottering, built upon sand, and the worldling's hopes of heaven are blind and groundless conjectures. But the hope of the sons of the living God is a living hope; not only as to its object, but as to its effect also. It enlivens and comforts in all distresses, enables to meet and get over all difficulties. Mercy is the spring of all this; yea, great mercy and manifold mercy. And this well-grounded hope of salvation, is an active and living principle of obedience in the soul of the believer. The matter of a Christian's joy, is the remembrance of the happiness laid up for him. It is incorruptible, it cannot come to nothing, it is an estate that cannot be spent. Also undefiled; this signifies its purity and perfection. And it fadeth not; is not sometimes more or less pleasant, but ever the same, still like itself. All possessions here are stained with defects and failings; still something is wanting: fair houses have sad cares flying about the gilded and ceiled roofs; soft beds and full tables, are often with sick bodies and uneasy stomachs. All possessions are stained with sin, either in getting or in using them. How ready we are to turn the things we possess into occasions and instruments of sin, and to think there is no liberty or delight in their use, without abusing them! Worldly possessions are uncertain and soon pass away, like the flowers and plants of the field. That must be of the greatest worth, which is laid up in the highest and best place, in heaven. Happy are those whose hearts the Holy Spirit sets on this inheritance. God not only gives his people grace, but preserves them unto glory. Every believer has always something wherein he may greatly rejoice; it should show itself in the countenance and conduct. The Lord does not willingly afflict, yet his wise love often appoints sharp trials, to show his people their hearts, and to do them good at the latter end. Gold does not increase by trial in the fire, it becomes less; but faith is made firm, and multiplied, by troubles and afflictions. Gold must perish at last, and can only purchase perishing things, while the trial of faith will be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Let this reconcile us to present afflictions. Seek then to believe Christ's excellence in himself, and his love to us; this will kindle such a fire in the heart as will make it rise up in a sacrifice of love to him. And the glory of God and our own happiness are so united, that if we sincerely seek the one now, we shall attain the other when the soul shall no more be subject to evil. The certainty of this hope is as if believers had already received it.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

To an inheritance - Called an inheritance because it belongs to the children of God. Eternal life cannot be a gift to any but these; for, even in heaven, the lot is dealt out according to law: if children, then heirs; if not children, then not heirs.

Incorruptible - Αφθαρτον· It has no principles of dissolution or decay in it; and, therefore, must be totally different from this earth.

Undefiled - Αμιαντον· Nothing impure can enter it; it not only has no principles or seeds of dissolution in itself, but it can never admit any; therefore its deterioration is impossible.

Fadeth not away - Αμαρνατον· It cannot wither, it is always in bloom; a metaphor taken from those flowers that never lose their hue nor their fragrance. From the Greek αμαραντος we have our flowers called amaranths, because they preserve their hue and odour for a long time.

Reserved in heaven - Such a place as that described above is not to be expected on earth; it is that which was typified by the earthly Canaan, and in reference to which the patriarchs endured all trials and difficulties in this life, as seeing Him who is invisible.

Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 235

For His own wise purpose the Lord veils spiritual truths in figures and symbols. Through the use of figures of speech the plainest and most telling rebuke was often given to His accusers and enemies, and they could find in His words no occasion to condemn Him. In parables and comparisons He found the best method of communicating divine truth. In simple language, using figures and illustrations drawn from the natural world, He opened spiritual truth to His hearers, and gave expression to precious principles that would have passed from their minds, and left scarcely a trace, had He not connected His words with stirring scenes of life, experience, or nature. In this way He called forth their interest, aroused inquiry, and when He had fully secured their attention, He decidedly impressed upon them the testimony of truth. In this way He was able to make sufficient impression upon the heart so that afterward His hearers could look upon the thing with which He connected His lesson, and recall the words of the divine Teacher. FE 236.1

The teaching of Jesus was of an entirely different order from that of the learned scribes. They professed to be expositors of the law, both written and traditional. But the formal tone of their instruction would indicate that they saw nothing in the doctrines of the sacred oracles which possessed vital power. They presented nothing new, uttered no words that reached the longing of the soul. They offered no food for the hungry sheep and lambs. Their custom was to dwell upon the obscurities of the law, and the result of their reasoning was a jargon of absurdities, which neither the learned could fathom nor the common people understand. FE 236.2

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 370.6

The attractions of Christ are all-satisfying, and through Christ Jesus we read our title to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. His grace is seen to be all-sufficient. The sympathy and love of Jesus are beseeching, wooing, drawing us to follow on in His footsteps, to know the Lord until we shall know His going forth is prepared as the morning.—Letter 128, December 22, 1895, to Edson and Emma White. UL 370.6

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 151.5

Becoming partakers of His divine nature, we are to learn to discern the temptations of Satan, and, in the strength of His grace, overcome the corruptions that are in the world through lust. He who was once a sinful human being may be refined and purified through the imparted merits of Christ, and stand before his fellow men as a laborer together with God. To the earnest seeker after God, the divine nature will surely be imparted, the compassion of Christ will certainly be vouchsafed.... TDG 151.5

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 70.4

The character of Christ is an infinitely perfect character. The Word declares Him. He is lifted up and proclaimed as the One who gave His life for the life of the world.... Christ gave His own life, that all the disloyal and disobedient might realize the truth of the promise given in the first chapter of John: “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). Tell it over and over again. We may become the sons of God, members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. All who accept Jesus Christ and hold the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end will be heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ to “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.”6 TMK 70.4

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